Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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Last week I shared our easy to make Christmas Crafts which formed the basis of a wonderful afternoon here on the farm on 23rd December. Today I’m looking back on our Christmas Eve 2018 through to Christmas Day Programme. I believe that having made the effort to prepare Christmas ahead of schedule and pay for a holiday with us, our guests deserve to relax, unwind and let us take the pressure of Christmas. Activities start from the moment they arrive.
An itinerary to plan around
Each property has a copy of the Christmas schedule ready on arrival, so trips out to the beaches and local attractions can be planned around our all included fun on the farm.
Meet Santa on the Coombe Mill Train
On Christmas Eve our daily train runs earlier than usual to allow for extra laps and extra time. The tunnel is decorated as an elaborate Christmas Grotto throughout the festive period in anticipation of Christmas Eve when Father Christmas takes up residence at the end of the tunnel together with a sack of toys.
Being a good sport one of my own children dressed up as a Santa helper to drive the train and take the children round and round the little track, stopping with Santa in the Grotto.
There is nothing more rewarding for all the time and effort of setting this up than to capture the faces of the children as they come into the tunnel. As if the excitement of Christmas Eve afternoon wasn’t enough, this certainly added to their spirits.
Christingle at St Tudy
Our local village puts on a beautiful Christingle service. This lasts just under an hour for families on Christmas Eve. It is very participative for little ones and aimed at keeping their attention on this magical night. Along with their glow stick Christingle oranges, they come out of the beautiful service to discover Santa has hot footed from Coombe Mill to the Church. Here he is ready to hand out yet more presents under the village Christmas Tree. Even the parents are offered mulled wine and mince pies. It is a lovely touch and a chance for everyone to chat in the street. Thankfully it was incredibly mild and dry for everyone.
Back at Coombe Mill we have a party in the games room. Here everyone can join us for a glass of Bucks Fizz and nibbles. A perfect treat before heading off home to hang up stockings. That busy Father Christmas has to move fast to leave the village and hocked up with his sleigh for the night.
A later than usual feed run on Christmas Morning sees Farmer Nick as Santa ready to take the children round the animals. There is always a big question mark over whether our Rudolph had been out working all night or snoozing in the field? One we will never know!
Fancy joining us for Christmas 2019?
If you fancy wrapping your family up in the wonder of a Coombe Mill style Christmas holiday do take a look at our bookings. We take short breaks and full weeks and offer 10 nights for the price of 7 leaving on 27 or 28th December. If Christmas is very much a home event for you, why not join us from the 27th and celebrate New Year here on the farm.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2018 Family Holiday Activities
So here we are in January and I’m only just finding the time to write up Christmas! We were so busy with holiday guests and then family visiting that the time ran away. Finally I have one safely delivered back to Uni, one back at work one back at collage, 4 back at school, extended family and festive holiday guests left and time to reflect on some of the fun we had. I’m beginning with a post about our Christmas crafts. Ever since I did our Halloween Log craft I knew that it would be perfect to adapt for our Christmas guests. I added a few bits and pieces and before long I had an afternoon of action packed fun waiting for a group of excited pre Christmas children.
Scavenger Hunt to make Christmas Crafts
Having explained to an eager gathering what the afternoon would entail we set off on a special Christmas scavenger hunt. The children had sheets of all the things they needed to find and collect. This was going to form the basis of our Christmas Log Decoration and Christmas bauble.
Making Christmas logs with Father Christmas
Having put quite a time into preparing my example Christmas Log table decoration I was a little worried about how long it might take in a big group. To speed things up I had pre cut some of the more intricate bits. Just as well I did as it still took longer than I anticipated with sharing scissors and paint. The children took real care over their coke bottle Santa’s and decorated the rest of the log in their own style from the bits we collected and resources I provided.
I still had two activities to run but I know Guy had a roaring fire pit waiting for us to toast marshmallows ahead of running the train for the evening so we agreed to return to the games room and finish our crafts after dark.
I may have ruined tea time for a few but the children had a great time dipping their marshmallows in the fire. Succumbing to the excitement of the moment the adults joined in too, after all who can resist a toasted marshmallow?
Coombe Mill Festive Train
Thankfully Guy was not just in charge of the fire but also our train driver for the evening, a few were worried about missing the train but when I pointed out that our train driver was still cooking they stopped worrying. Finally we ran a late train through the Christmas filled tunnel as the daylight fell away.
Reindeer food & Christmas baubles
For those still keen to continue crafting we returned to the games room where the bottom of our coke bottles became a container for reindeer food. OK so we have fallow deer, but let’s not be too picky, our Rudolph was still on standby for Santa and needed some special food with magic sprinkle for breakfast the following day (Christmas Eve). Christmas paper and colourful ribbon finished the packaging and the children promised to bring them along the following day for the morning feed run to feed to Rudolph.
Finally the left over tinsel, ivy, holly and chosen Christmas card pictures were filled into hollow baubles to make take home tree decorations.
There was certainly enough to keep the most active and creative children occupied for the afternoon. With just 2 sleeps left to Christmas the energy levels were riding high and here on the farm the children were thoroughly enjoying the festive build up with us. Join me next week to see the fun we had on Christmas Eve and don’t forget if you fancy leaving the Christmas organisation to us next year and sitting back enjoying a fun festive holiday we are taking bookings now.
Welcome back to the Coombe Mill blog for a new year of farm fun and holiday activities. I’m starting the year with a traditional review of the plans I set out this time last year. As always there are some great achievements and some things that fell off the radar, however it is a good way to see the year that was 2018 in review and use this to plan ahead for 2019.
How did we do against our 2018 Targets?
Last year these were the things on our to do list:
This has been a popular activity for all the family
Playroom and link bedroom for Pencarrow
FAIL. the popular Heligan format is going to be carried over again for next year.
Nature Trail along the orchard
Became a fun Kindness Trail for reflective time
Re-plan the Welly Walk
FAIL. I wanted to make more of this and it just didn’t happen in 2018.
Update the Fairy gardens with new decorated stones, trinkets and regular new chippings
This ever popular area is constantly being updated
Keep on top of SEO
This is a harder one to call a pass or fail. I feel I’m slowly moving forward in my understanding yet slipping back in an ever crowded market place where SEO logarithms are moving faster than my knowledge.
FAIL. These are currently used as storage awaiting more exciting plans.
In summary a mix of success with some outstanding projects to carryover. However we did bring in some left field initiatives that sapped up our time too.
Additional Achievements for the farm and business in 2018
Updated wifi directly into all properties
Enjoy free wi fi inside all 11 properties
New Kitchen for Honeysuckle
Farmer Nick shows his new carpentry skills
New kitchen doors fitted in Millers House
New Door panels and modern handles
Introduction of guinea Pigs
5 Guinea Pigs and 3 babies take us into 2019
Introduction of miniature Shetland ponies
Shaggy and Scooby Doo are as cute as can be
New marketing initiatives such as our ‘refer a friend’ scheme and branded mugs.
Refer a friend and save money for them and you. #CoombeMillHolidays and if I share your post you take home one of these lovely mugs. Perfect for our morning feed run.
The Coombe Mill Blog
I began to pull back a little on the blog even giving up hosting the Country Kids Linky after 7 years of weekly posts. Sadly with children aged 14 – 20 outdoor play posts are a little too tricky. Three of my favourite outdoor bloggers, who have supported Country Kids each week, have collectively taken over and doing a great job. I still join in with activities we do here with the guests as outdoor fun and back to nature are still something I’m passionate about for children. Do join Louise at Little Hearts Big Love, Lucy at Kids of the Wild and Helena at Queen of Collage if you can where the link up still runs each Saturday to Wednesday.
I backed out of blogging awards in 2018 and didn’t put myself forward for any. I feel the blogging community has been more than generous to my little blog over the years. On the back of this I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find myself with a new award.
On a Personal Note
We had a big year of exams for 2 of our boys.
Felix achieved ABB in his A levels and secured his first choice university place studying Marketing management with psychology at Sussex University. At the end of the first term he has won the business school challenge, made some great friends, partied hard and consumed far too much alcohol. I’m thrilled about most of this!
Theo scrapped 6 GCSE passes including the all important Maths and English and began a level 3 diploma in Creative Media at a newly opened local collage. At the end of the first term he loves his course, tutors and friends. His end of term report and parents evening has him heading for a distinction. This is certainly a change for the better from his school reports.
Ally, the eldest continues to thrive on his carpentry while the triplets (Guy, Jed and Clio) are preparing for GCSE mocks back at school this week. They are only year 10 so I think this is to give them an idea of how much they still need to do.
Farmer Nick and I have started taking more short breaks as the kids are now more than capable of running the business for us for a couple of days. Each has their area of expertise and it’s wonderful to be able to leave the farm and holiday makers in safe hands.
Business Plans for 2019
Willow Kitchen makeover to bring it up to date like Honeysuckle.
Welly walk theme. I need to crack this one and bring the trail to life this year.
Replace Farm fencing this may not sound exciting but the fence posts have rotted through on so many of our fences thanks to stringent EU rules on tanalized wood. Replacing many has now become an expensive priority.
Website: I am toying with a website revamp next year primarily to make booking via a mobile more viable.
Advertising I need to expand my reach for our holidays beyond social media and my blog which has been the focus for the past 7 years. I will still post here weekly, but also look at how else I can bring our educational farm holidays to the attention of families with young children.
As always I’m sure there will be many more opportunities that present themselves during the year and new projects that we will undertake. I am excited to meet the challenge and hope that you might visit us on holiday and see how we are progressing.
How is it every year I think I have so much time and then suddenly it is Christmas? All those good intentions in October and November to be fully organised are never quite enough and I’m flying by the seat of my pants again. Then I look back and wonder, if I really was so organised, would it be the Christmas I know and love? Somehow being rushed off my feet, planning activities for the guests and a magical time for my own family, is all I know. This is my stress free Christmas. Stress is a state of mind: take a breather, relish the positive, plan your time and squash the stress.
Learning to love the buzz and not be stressed
I am lucky to have the space to put up all the family over the festive period. Family debates over who to visit is never a factor for us as we need to be here at Coombe Mill. This is a big bonus; everyone has to come to us to see us at Christmas. No decision equals no stress. Cooking on a large scale doesn’t faze me at all and watching all our holiday guests relax and enjoy the beauty of the farm and the activities we put on is so satisfying. Our Christmas Eve party is planned, the little train tunnel is now a magical Santa’s grotto waiting for the man himself to drop in and the children will make some wonderful crafts with me. I am relishing the Christmas buzz rather than wasting energy stressing this year.
A Few fun Photos from a Stress Free Festive Coombe Mill
Festive Train ride each day with Santa on Christmas Eve.
Our resident robin in Christmas spirit
Christmas cheer with our log store decorations
Our very own Rudolph on standby for Santa
Crafts prepared and tested for a stress free Christmas
Wrap yourself in a little Magic
I hope the Christmas build up has been more fun and less stress for you and your family. If not I can totally recommend coming to us next year and leaving the stress at home.
Wishing you and your family
A Very Merry Christmas
Happy New Year
Thank you for following my farm and family ramblings through the year and I hope you’ll follow me into 2019
Over time I think we all start to build up family traditions around Christmas. Whether they originate in our own childhood or evolve in adult life, they begin to define the Christmas we create. For us a little Christmas flutter at the Wadebridge races is one of these events. Usually hosted a couple of weeks before Christmas, it is a real local point to point.
A wet and Windy Racecourse
The 2018 Christmas races turned out to be the usual wicked winds, squally showers and glimpses of wintry sun I’ve come to expect. I had dressed accordingly with gloves, hat, welly boots and plenty of warm layers; however I am renowned for being cold if I’m not running around and the family awarded me the prize of most wrapped up, yet simultaneously most cold looking spectator! Despite this I still love to go, it is a part of my Christmas now.
A few photos from one of the Races
Family banter waiting for the race to start
Where are those horses Dad, the mist is too thick!
First lap, watch the jockey in yellow and black….
Racing down the back straight as the sun makes a fleeting appearance.
Here’s that jockey in the yellow and black racing up to win. Sadly not the one we backed!
Sustenance on Offer
Thankfully there is always refuge from the elements between races in the big covered shed where the bookies take your bets and local businesses sell their wares. This is always a winner for the kids as the smell of bacon and burgers cooking draw them in. Due to various alternative commitments we only had Theo and Guy with us this year, but they fleeced us for some good racing grub. I must say I was tempted by a brandy from the bar hosted by our local village pub, however I was sidetracked buying a new farm wax jacket as my Christmas present.
Photo credit to Theo as I tried on a new farm coat between races
It’s not about the money
Last year we pulled in a winner, but this year we lost on every race. In fact we considered ourselves lucky if our horse even completed the allotted race. But when you are only betting a couple of pounds on a race it isn’t about the money; it’s about the family time, the banter we exchange and the sense of belonging within one of our family traditions. My face ached, not from the cold but with laughter from the jokes and puns flying between us. Our Christmas flutter on the horses reminded me how much family traditions mean to me and how much fun having teenagers can be.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.